Summer weekend in the Twin Cities

D and I and some friends from the math department had a nice weekend out. Minnehaha falls:

Minnehaha Falls with friendsMinnehaha FallsThe pretty Longfellow flower garden attracting some pollinator attention:

Longellow Flower Garden at Minnehaha ParkRed admiral butterfly at Minnehaha ParkD particularly liked the genetics on display:

Flowers at Minnehaha ParkWe crossed the river and ogled a resident bald eagle:

Bald eagle at Hidden Falls Regional ParkFinally, we were offered a fish by a friendly stranger in Downtown:

Carp at the Stone Arch Bridge

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Someone I admire very much writes:

1000 Palestinians dead… It’s time for American Jews to recognize that the Zionism of our parents generation is gone. I have no idea if the liberal, socialist, secular, democratic ideal of a Jewish State was ever possible in Israel, but if it ever was it is now so distant as to barely merit discussion. What supporters of Israel are left with is the Israel of the war criminal Sharon, the buffoonish Netanyahu, and Avigdor Lieberman and his fascist gangs of thugs. The Zionist ideal has been replaced by a Zionism of race-hatred, religious extremism, and ethnic cleansing. No Jew should support a state that would deny an entire people the right to land, water, and self-determination. If our history has taught us anything it should be that.

I’ll never say it’s too late for peace – Israelis can still reject the occupation, abandon the settler project, tear down their wall, allow Palestinians the right to elect a government without interference and begin negotiations in good faith. We should be in solidarity with the peace activists, draft resistors, and other Israelis of conscience who fight for that day. The whole world is waiting for it. Until then, there is no room for equivocation. As an American and as a Jew, I stand with Gaza.

In related news:

Bar Ilan University students, faculty and administrators are up in arms over a law professor’s email to his students that opened with an expression of sympathy for all victims of the Israel-Gaza war, implicitly reminding them that the overwhelming majority of those victims are Gazans.

Prof. Hanoch Sheinman’s email was sent to reassure his second-year law students that because the security situation had disrupted many students’ routines, there would be an additional date scheduled for his course’s final exam. Sheinman opened the email, however, by saying that he hoped the message “finds you in a safe place, and that you, your families and those dear to you are not among the hundreds of people that were killed, the thousands wounded, or the tens of thousands whose homes were destroyed or were forced to leave their homes during, or as a direct result of, the violent confrontation in the Gaza Strip and its environs.”

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If the next time I read something about Clayton Christensen is never then that will be too soon, but at least Jill Lepore’s takedown is characteristically excellent. In the short essay, she manages to pack in two points that I thought were particularly powerful. The first is that curated case-studies are a terrible way of developing a theory: essentially, they allow the theorist to choose only convenient examples. The second is that public-oriented institutions (e.g., schools, universities, museums) are of a different nature from for-profit widget-makers, and a theory developed around the widget industry is going to have dubious relevance at best for an institution whose “product” is (e.g.) education.

Obviously there’s more in the article than just these two points; someone who cared more about start-ups and less about academia might pull out different messages as key. Also, of course, Lepore is just a great writer. I particularly like the line “Ideas that come from business schools are exceptionally well marketed,” which I find understated but devastating.

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Brooklyn-Queens Day

Evidently it has been long enough that the Times does not feel silly running an explainer on Brooklyn-Queens Day.  As it turns out, this is a rare moment when Wikipedia is not helpful: the article was only created after the Times article.  I attended public school in Manhattan, so my main memory of Brooklyn-Queens Day is that the math team coach at Brooklyn Tech would always call the head of the math department at Stuyvesant and invite him out to lunch or a museum.  “Oh, wait, I forgot ….”

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Phenomenological seasons

At universities in the northern part of the United States, spring is the brief season in which the bicycle racks are full, following winter (when bicycle racks are covered in snow) and followed by summer (when the bicycle racks are empty but not snow-covered).


(The Wikipedia article is not very informative.)

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More OA: ridiculous journal names

Since I’m on the topic, today I received a spam e-mail to submit to an OA journal.  The e-mail was relatively professional, at least compared to the last one I mentioned here, but the journal name, American International Journal of Contemporary Research, is just too silly to avoid mentioning.

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Open access: Beall is a loon

Well, this is disappointing: Jeffrey Beall, the librarian who maintains a valuable list of predatory open access publishers (and accompanying blog), is a total lunatic. From a paper he wrote last year (appearing, of course, in an OA journal):

The open-access movement is really about anti-corporatism. OA advocates want to make collective everything and eliminate private business, except for small businesses owned by the disadvantaged. They don’t like the idea of profit, even though many have a large portfolio of mutual funds in their retirement accounts that invest in for-profit companies.

And so on. Not really much more to say about it; here are a few links with more discussion:
Wayne Bivens-Tatum
Stevan Harnad
Roy Tennant
Michael Eisen
Joseph Esposito


I’ve mentioned Beall once before here.  I stumbled across this particular piece of insanity while trying to make sense of a recent, incomprehensible post on Beall’s blog.  He didn’t allow my comment there, presumably because it was mildly critical and not attached to a real e-mail address; I include it here:

This post is very inside baseball. Here are a few of the questions that it raises for me as a reader: who in your audience do you expect to understand it? What does it mean for someone to be an “open-access bully”? Can it really be plausible that one of these people is “the sole champion” of green OA? Is there any meaningful connection between a request button on DSpace and OA, and if so what is it? Why should anyone care about this conversation? Is the final paragraph supposed to be a joke? (It doesn’t read like one, but I have trouble believing that it is meant in any serious way.)

Update: Ok, one or two of these questions can be answered by reading Harnard’s blog:

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